As snow is blanketing the ground in the Southeast, the comings and goings of animals will be more apparent as they'll leave tracks where they step.

Some of those tracks might end up being concerningly large, with big cats and wild canines known to sometimes prowl at night.

That's why knowing what to do when you see a large - and potentially dangerous - animal's tracks is so important.

Conservation officer Lindsey Leko said one of the first steps is to contact a Conservation Officer.

"Now that we've got snow on the ground we're going to start seeing tracks," said Leko, "If you see something that you're a little unsure of and I guess if you've got incidents of sightings and stuff like that, make sure you contact your conservation officers."

While some big cats and domestic dogs can be of similar sizes and leave similar prints, Leko details the best way to tell the difference between the two.

"When you look at a dog track and a cougar track, they're pretty different," he said. "The one big distinguishing factor is that when the dog is walking their claws are not retracted, when a cat walks, much like a mountain lion, there are no claws at all, you'll be able to see the claws in the snow and the mud very clear."

Leko also suggested looking at the back heel, where three lobes signifies it's a cat, two lobes says it's a dog.

Those tracks may even change depending on how soon they were made and can be affected by the local conditions.

"Once that track has been made, depending upon how long ago it was made, the size is gonna fluctuate depending on the weather," said Leko, "As it melts it might grow, might shrink as it gets colder, so it's not going to look the same way as when it was first made.

"Those are all things that the people who want to go look at tracks and stuff, those are things to take into consideration. those are the things that I look at at least.